Camp Reflections: Staff Writers Pick Training Camp's Top 10 Standouts

OXNARD, Calif. – With another training camp in the books, the staff of did its annual rankings of the best players throughout the team's three-week stay in Oxnard.

Here's the Top 10 rankings for the Cowboys' 2016 training camp, voted on by the staff of David Helman, Rob Phillips, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus.

Honorable Mention: Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick
Two of the Cowboys' three All-Pro linemen received an equal number of votes just outside the top 10. Smith once again was a frustrating assignment for the defense's edge rushers, and it was a practice highlight on the rare occasion he got caught off balance in pass protection. There's a reason Frederick got a six-year, $56.4 million contract extension: he remains a technique-sound, assignment-sharp leader at center.

10. Dak Prescott - Kellen Moore's fractured fibula might have been the biggest story of training camp, leading to more questions about the team's comfort level at backup quarterback. With a near-flawless half against the Rams, Prescott – the team's fourth-round pick – might just be the answer. He seemed to gain confidence with more reps, particularly with help from the starting offense on days Romo didn't play, and the coaches have praised the 23-year-old's poise and leadership. Romo missed 12 games last year, and the Cowboys know they need a reliable option as insurance behind their veteran starter. Prescott has the rest of preseason to earn the No. 2 spot.

9. Tony Romo - The last few years, with advancing age and 2013 back surgery, training camp has been a balance of preparation and maintenance for Romo. He has taken customary days off to make sure he's keeping his back strong, and the results gotten better the further removed he gets from surgery three years ago. Also coming off another collarbone injury that healed in the offseason, Romo was accurate and decisive for the majority of his practice work in Oxnard – and perhaps most important, he and Dez Bryant appeared to progressively knock off the rust together.

8. Terrance Williams – He's got other receivers higher on this list, but when it comes to steadily making plays, Williams was there every day in the same fashion. It seemed like he was making a lot more contested catches this year, especially going to the ground for diving grabs. Look for him to have yet another solid year.

7. Jason Witten– One of the writers actually had him No. 1 on his list. For a 14-year veteran, Witten showed no signs of slowing down. He was beating Byron Jones most of the time in their daily battles. Witten will probably be used a lot as a blocker this year but if this camp showed us anything, it's that he can still get open and make plays in the passing game like he's always done before.

6. DeMarcus Lawrence– It seemed like with everything Lawrence did well in camp, there was an invisible asterisk by his play. While he's only going to miss four games due to suspension, Lawrence probably would've been higher on this list without that setback. Truth be told, he was great against Tyron Smith, probably even winning the majority of the 1-on-1 battles.


5. Dez Bryant– This isn't a talent list. Dez would top that every time. Had it not been for a rather slow start where he and Romo weren't always on the same page, Dez is likely higher on this list. He was good once again and especially at the end of camp, where he was bringing the noise every snap. He still made highlight plays but he was challenged more this camp than ever before.

4. Alfred Morris– And we wondered how many reps might get. Instead, he took nearly every first-team snap of camp with Elliott getting banged up and the other two veteran backs missing every practice. Morris not only showed the durability he's displayed the first four years in the league, but his attitude is so infectious. He's actually waiting for the other guys to return so in his words, "can get better."

3. Cole Beasley – Last year's Camp MVP on this list, Beasley was just as good this year, and perhaps even better. Even with Orlando Scandrick returning to action on a limited basis, Beasley wasn't covered that often. His understanding of this offense keeps getting better each year and if he can play a full season with a healthy Romo, he might be up in the 75-80 catch range this year. At least that's what training camp showed us the last three weeks.

2. Sean Lee– We've always wondered how good Lee could be if he stayed healthy. Just watching him at camp you get the sense he could easily be one of the NFL's best linebackers if he was pain-free all year long. He's so physical and intense and brings the passion on a daily basis. Everything Dez is for the offense, Lee does that for the defense as well.

1. Morris Claiborne – This probably comes down to expectations. But don't forget, not many people even expected Claiborne to be at training camp with the Cowboys after last year. Not only did he sign a new deal for this season, but he showed up every day. The three words to best describe Claiborne for this camp would be consistent, healthy and confident. We knew he was talented all along but adding those other three factors made him a steady force at the cornerback position during camp. His battles with Dez were some of the most entertaining aspects of camp. 

With another training camp in the books, the staff of did its annual rankings of the best players throughout the team's three-week stay in Oxnard.

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